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Litigation: e.tv seeks ConCourt intervention on set-top boxes

Free-to-air private broadcaster e.tv has made a direct application to the Constitutional Court to appeal the dismissal of its bid to scrap the government's end of March deadline for the country's migration from analogue to digital television signal, reports Fin24. In its petition to the court, the company says the switch-off deadline, although it was extended to 30 June, is ‘unlawful’ and ‘unconstitutional’, as it will cut off millions of poor households who do not yet have access to set-top boxes. E.tv argues that the process of rolling out set-top boxes has not been properly conducted, and the migration, despite a court-extended deadline, will affect its viewers who depend on free-to-air broadcasts. ‘The central issue in this case is the constitutional rights of millions of the indigent and vulnerable South Africans who are reliant on analogue television broadcasting to access news, information, and entertainment,’ states the affidavit. It adds that its appeal to the apex court on an urgent basis is meant to force the Minister of Communications & Digital Technologies Khumbudzo Ntshavheni to comply with her constitutional obligations to respect, protect, promote the citizen’s rights to access to information and its own rights. Last month, the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) ruled that e.tv had not proven that there were 2.5m households that still required set-top boxes.

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